Burton and Taylor BBC 4, 9pm.

Beautiful screenplay by William Ivory. My partner thought this was a bit boring, but alright. We watched it in separate room, Separate Lives, just like the Broadway revival of the Noel Coward play in 1982/3 that brought them together, and kept them apart. I thought Helena Bonham Carter got the eyes right and the shoulder shrug and played Elizabeth beautifully, without being as beautiful. But not many people were or are. Taylor was part of the studio system that fed young girls massive amounts of drugs to keep them working. Burton was an alcoholic, pock-faced and pock-backed. He looked best from side on. Dominic West was a bit too handsome for the Welsh boyo. I remember an old Daily Record photo of them partying together with Celitc fans in the early seventies on one of our big European nights. Cleopatra, of course, was where they bought each other diamonds, which they could afford the film and their fees almost bankrupting a studio. Taylor was beautiful enough to be the original, the nemesis of Caesar and Mark Antony. She has the better lines in Shakespeare’s play, but in a flashback he reminisces about Bonam-Carter-Liz Taylor’s tits. There was more than one kind of line and Taylor took them all. What shows here is her great vulnerability and need to be loved and adored. Burton had the lesser role. He pined for the saving grace of Lear and mopes about carrying Cordelia, but carrying Liz Taylor, as was shown here, was beyond the kings of stage and screen. Post-script, he dies; she goes into the Betty Ford clinic. In Antony and Cleopatra she gets one of her maidservants to tell her she is dead to see what her lover will do. Eventually, Antony kills himself. Only then can Cleopatra die happy. Pretty apt.